Q: Why did you start a vegan cupcake business? And what has been the biggest challenge getting started?
A: I started this business because of my love for animals combined with my love for baking. Not only do I get to have fun and be creative, I get to educate people in the process! I want to show people that you don't have to make sacrifices to be vegan. That vegan food can taste just as good or better! My biggest challenge has definitely been scaling! Learning how to go from making half a dozen cupcakes, to making ten dozen at once!
Q: Why do you think people should eat more vegan? And what is your best vegan dish and cupcake?
A. For the animals! Not to mention the health and environmental benefits! The suffering that farm animals endure is inhumane and unnecessary. There are so many vegan options on the market that are amazing! Even small changes that you make - things like adding vegan butter to your fridge rather than dairy, participating in meatless Monday, or eating a vegan cupcake for dessert instead of a regular cupcake, will add up and make a big difference! My favorite vegan dish to make is Sweet and Spicy Sriracha Tofu - it's just the right amount of spicy, and who doesn't love homemade Chinese food! I'd have to say my favorite cupcake is Double Chocolate! So sweet and decadent!
Q: How did you learn to bake vegan? Who was your greatest influence in technique?
A. Baking vegan is just like traditional baking! It's just learning how to substitute the vegan products in place of the eggs, milk, butter, etc. There are vegan replacements for everything, and you can't taste the difference! I love following Angela Liddon's blog, 'Oh She Glows' she has so many inspirational stories and recipes!
Q: Do you think it is easier or harder for women to make it as a vegan chef or baker?
A: I can't speak for everyone, but I think the most important thing is to have a strong support system and to continue moving forward no matter what challenges you may face in the industry!
Q: Where can people get your cupcakes? And what is the next big step for Peaceful Cupcakes?
A: You can order my cupcakes through my website (www.peacefulcupcakes.com) or my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/peaceful cupcakes). You can also find them on the menu at Root - Lancaster's first and only vegan restaurant and bar! As far as the next big step for my business - I would love to own and operate a Peaceful Cupcakes food truck!
Q: As a female business owner, what challenges and obstacles do you face?
A: My biggest obstacle is simply the word 'vegan'. Unfortunately it is a bad word to a lot of people. To most, it means bland, flavorless food. It's also hard for people to open up to a new lifestyle. I hope to change their minds!
Q: Who has been your greatest influence on becoming vegan?
A: My inspiration to vegan was a visit to Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY. (More specifically, Farm Sanctuary's co-founder, Gene Baur). I had been a vegetarian for over ten years, and I knew going vegan would be the next step. Farm Sanctuary rescues and rehabilitates abused and neglected farm animals from factory farms, etc. At the sanctuary, you learn the animal's stories and connect with them individually. Going vegan is one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I can only hope to inspire others to make even small changes to their diet and lifestyle.
Q: Do you think it is harder to start a vegan baked business in Lancaster County or in a big city?
A: Absolutely! There's a very small vegan community here, whereas larger cities like Philly or Baltimore have a larger vegan population and a lot more restaurants, etc with vegan options. Thankfully though, I do see the vegan community starting to grow in Lancaster!
Om Sweet Home
A: Having just left Corp America and baking traditionally on the side for years, I thought there was a huge gap in the market for great quality "alternative" baked goods. I felt you could throw a rock & hit 50 other people making cupcakes with butter, eggs, sugar & flour. I knew there was an opportunity to go in a different direction. Of course there's always the challenge of educating others on the health benefits to vegan & GF "alternative" baking plus overcoming the stigma on how it tastes too.
Q: Where did you learn to create vegan food? And what is your biggest vegan seller?
A: I studied recreationally at ICE and Natural Gourmet Institute under Chef Fran Costigan. I learned so much & used that to create my own spin on alternative desserts. My biggest seller is my PBJ bars & pumpkin donuts & muffins.
Q: Where can we find your vegan goods? And are there plans to expand?
A: My non-dairy butter alternative BKLYN BUTTAH is a new product that just hit retail stores. The Buttah plus my baked goods can be found across Hoboken, Jersey City, Edgewater, Brooklyn & NYC. Please refer to my new website for the complete list of locations:
Q: What do you find the biggest benefit of eating vegan to be?
A: You can't go wrong with plant based diet. There's no processed foods, no animal cholesterol, it's heart healthy & filled with phytonutrients and it is in good conscience of course.
Q: Do you have new items you would like to tell us about? What is your guilty vegan pleasure?
A: My new non-dairy butter alternative BKLYN BUTTAH is a one-to-one substitute for dairy butter without the animal cholesterol & inflammatory properties of dairy. And we have a new Paleo dark chocolate brownie coming out! My latest vegan & GF pleasure is a savory dish made with chick peas, zucchini noodles, veggies, coconut milk & of course my Buttah!
Q: What advice to you have for women who want eat and cook vegan?
A: My advice is fuel your body with what it needs. Listen to yourself & become in tune with how your body is reacting to what your feeding it. Start slowly eliminating items from your diet and replacing them with non/dairy, vegan or gluten free options.
Q: Do you think it is more difficult to start a vegan business in the city versus the countryside? What is your biggest challenge being in a city environment?
A: I think it's all about finding & targeting your market.
Probably cheaper in rural areas than urban but as long as you have the demographic